-by Holly Simpson, High Mowing Organic Seeds' Sales Associate
At High Mowing Organic seeds we often get questions concerning our "Hybrid" seeds.
Hybridization is a naturally occurring process that happens all the time as plants can potentially get pollinated by bees and insects or even by the wind. Then those two parents create a variety with different traits than the two parents.
A hybrid can be produced organically. It doesn't mean that we are genetically modifying the seed on a cellular level like such companies as Monsanto.
This is how we define hybrids:
"Hybrids result from the deliberate crossing of two different parent varieties from the same species. F1 refers to "first generation off-spring" from these two distinct parent varieties. If you plant seed saved from an F1 hybrid variety, you will not get the same result as the parent plant (will not be "true to type"). The off-spring will revert back to the different traits of the separate parent varieties. In order to produce new seed for hybrid varieties, the parent plants must be crossed each time to create the same combination. Plant breeders began producing hybrids as a way of combining the best traits of separate varieties into one creating what is known as hybrid vigor. Hybrid varieties offer greater disease resistance, vigor and uniformity than open-pollinated or heirloom varieties."
As for whether hybridization is deemed good or bad, that is more of a personal, philosophical choice. Hybrids can be more vigorous and have more disease resistance, which is especially appealing for commercial growers. On the other hand, only using hybrid seeds results in less seed independence because when you save the seed from a hybrid, the second generation is apt to have off types and varies in traits. Open pollinated varieties or heirlooms are the best types to choose if you want to save seed.
I hope this helps in defining hybridization for you.